INDIANAPOLIS — With the NFL Draft now in the rear-view mirror, the Indianapolis Colts officially have their first full 90-man offseason roster. Here’s how the roster breaks down by position:
QUARTERBACK (3): Jacoby Brissett, Andrew Luck, Phillip Walker
» Newcomers: None.
» Quarterbacks On Week 1 Roster In 2018: 2 (Brissett, Luck)
» Notes: Continuity is a theme on the Colts’ initial 90-man roster this offseason, and it starts at the quarterback position. Indy has its starter (Luck), backup (Brissett) and third-stringer (Walker) all back and ready to go, and, at this point, set to retain those roles again once the 2019 season gets underway.
» Keep An Eye On: Will the Colts eventually add a fourth quarterback for the rest of the preseason, training camp and preseason? That’s what they did last year with Luck, Brissett, Walker and Brad Kaaya, who was eventually placed on IR with a back injury.
RUNNING BACK (5): Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack, Spencer Ware, Jordan Wilkins, Jonathan Williams
» Newcomers: 1 (Ware)
» Running Backs On Week 1 Roster In 2018: 4 (Hines, Mack, Christine Michael, Wilkins)
» Notes: The Colts enter 2019 boasting just about every flavor of talent at running back. Mack returns as the featured back, and could’ve had a 1,200-yard season, or better, if he didn’t miss several games with a hamstring injury last year. Hines was a huge asset catching the ball out of the backfield as a rookie last season, and Wilkins got yards in big chunks when called upon.
» Keep An Eye On: What role will Ware be playing? A six-year veteran, Ware can do it all from the backfield, and he’s especially effective in the passing game. But with Mack, Hines and Wilkins all returning, as well as Williams, it’s yet to be seen just where Ware fits in the rotation.
WIDE RECEIVER (13): Deon Cain, Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin, Daurice Fountain, Devin Funchess, Penny Hart, T.Y. Hilton, Krishawn Hogan, Steve Ishmael, Marcus Johnson, Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, Jordan Veasy
» Newcomers: 5 (Campbell, Dulin, Funchess, Hart, Veasy)
» Wide Receivers On Week 1 Roster In 2018: 5 (Ryan Grant, Hilton, Johnson, Pascal, Rogers)
» Notes: Two newcomers are expected to make instant contributions for the Colts at wide receiver in 2019: Funchess and Campbell. Funchess came via free agency from the Carolina Panthers, where the 6-foot-4, 225 Michigan product had 161 receptions for 2,233 yards and 21 touchdowns in four seasons. Campbell was the Colts’ second-round (59th-overall) pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, where he thrived in the slot, finishing with 143 receptions for 1,738 yards and 15 touchdowns. His receptions and receiving yards figures rank seventh and 15th, respectively in school history.
» Keep An Eye On: Deon Cain was the talk of training camp last year as a rookie, as the sixth-round pick out of Clemson seemingly made at least one highlight-reel play every day. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Colts’ very first preseason game, What kind of playmaker will the Colts be getting back when he is back to 100 percent? Also, the fight for final spots come Week 1 of the regular season should be intense. Whether Indy keeps five or six receivers, those last three or four spots should feature some intriguing battles.
TIGHT END (7): Mo Alie-Cox, Billy Brown, Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Hale Hentges, Gabe Holmes, Ross Travis
» Newcomers: 3 (Brown, Hentges, Holmes)
» Tight Ends On Week 1 Roster In 2018: 4 (Doyle, Ebron, Ryan Hewitt, Erik Swoope)
» Notes: The tight end position remains perhaps the Colts’ most talented overall spot — and is arguably the best tight end group in the league. Ebron lit it up in his first season in Indy in 2018, earning his first Pro Bowl selection and finishing with a Colts tight end franchise record 13 receiving touchdowns. Doyle, meanwhile, had an injury-plagued 2018 season, but is also a dependable Pro Bowler who is one of the top all-around tight ends in the league. Then there’s Alie-Cox, who stepped up in Doyle’s absence last year in his first full NFL season, contributing in the passing game (seven receptions, 133 yards, two touchdowns) and as a blocker.
» Keep An Eye On: Travis can be one of the more athletic players on the field for the Colts, but last year suffered an unfortunate season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter of the final preseason game against the Bengals, right when it appeared he was a virtual lock to make the Week 1 roster. Like Cain with the wide receivers, it’ll be interesting to see where Travis falls once he gets back to 100 percent healthy.
OFFENSIVE LINE (15): Josh Andrews (C), Jackson Barton (T), Evan Bohem (C/G), Anthony Castzono (T), Le’Raven Clark (G/T), Joe Haeg (T/G), Antonio Garcia (T), Mark Glowinski (G), Ryan Kelly (C), Quenton Nelson (G/C), Javon Patterson (C), William Poehls (G), Braden Smith (T/G). J’Marcus Webb (T), De’Ondre Wesley (T)
» Newcomers: 3 (Barton, Patterson, Poehls)
» Offensive Linemen On Week 1 Roster In 2018: 10 (Castonzo, Clark, Glowinski, Denzelle Good, Haeg, Kelly, Nelson, Matt Slauson, Smith, Webb)
» Notes: You want continuity? You won’t get it more than along the offensive line for the Colts, who return all five starters from last year’s group that allowed the fewest sacks (18) in the league. With Castonzo at left tackle, Nelson at left guard, Kelly at center, Glowinski at right guard and Smith at right tackle once again in 2019, all under a new position coach in Chris Strausser, as well as under the tutelage of returning legend Howard Mudd, who was brought back from retirement to be a senior offensive assistant, this group hopes to be even more well rounded this time around, as head coach Frank Reich has made it known that he wants a top-five rushing attack to match with Indy’s potent passing game.
» Keep An Eye On: So the starters are back, but what about everyone else? The good news is there’s even continuity up front among the second-stringers at each position, like Boehm (center) and the team’s Swiss Army Knife, Haeg, who can play all five spots. But there is still going to be plenty of competition for other backup jobs heading into the regular season, most notably from two seventh-round draft picks in Barton and Patterson. General manager Chris Ballard has continued to express a desire for 10 starting-capable players along the offensive line, and the team is closer to that goal than ever before.
DEFENSIVE LINE (15): Denico Autry (DT/DE), Gerri Green (DE), Justin Houston (DE), Margus Hunt (DT), Jegs Jegede (DE), Tyquan Lewis (DT/DE), Al-Quadin Muhammad (DE), Carroll Phillips (DE), Johnny Robinson (DT), Jabaal Sheard (DE), Sterling Shippy (DT), Grover Stewart (DT), Jordan Thompson (DT), Kemoko Turay (DE), Jihad Ward (DT)
» Newcomers: 6 (Green, Houston, Jegede, Robinson, Shippy, Thompson)
» Defensive Linemen On Week 1 Roster In 2018: 9 (Autry, Tarell Basham, Hunt, Muhammad, Hassan Ridgeway, Sheard, Stewart, Turay, Al Woods)
» Notes: Pass rush was the top priority for general manager Chris Ballard entering the offseason, and, boy, did the Colts address that in a big way in free agency. The team signed the eighth-year veteran Houston to a reported two-year deal, and he brings his 78.5 career sacks with him, as well as some solid run defense opposite a fellow veteran in Sheard. By also re-signing Hunt this offseason, the Colts continue to feature several versatile pieces up front that can play off the edge or inside, a list that also includes Autry — who had a team-best nine sacks last year — and Lewis.
» Keep An Eye On: While the Houston addition should be huge for this group, the Colts want to see more pressure overall from the rest of the defensive linemen. Turay showed several flashes as a rookie last season with 4.0 sacks, and looks to continue his development in Year 2, while Ward had a career-best 3.0 sacks in six games before suffering a season-ending injury in 2018. The more pressure you can apply, the better chance you have of breaking into the rotation for Mike Phair’s group.
LINEBACKER (10): Matthew Adams, Ben Banogu, Zaire Franklin, Darius Leonard, Skai Moore, Bobby Okereke, E.J. Speed, Ahmad Thomas, Tre Thomas, Anthony Walker
» Newcomers: 4 (Banogu, Okereke, Speed, Thomas)
» Linebackers On Week 1 Roster In 2018: 6 (Adams, Franklin, Najee Goode, Leonard, Moore, Walker)
» Notes: Continuity remains a theme at linebacker, where the team’s 2018 starters at WILL (Leonard), MIKE (Walker) and SAM (Adams) return. But the Colts also used three draft picks this year — one each in the second and third rounds (Banogu and Okereke), and another in the fifth round (Speed) — on linebackers who are expected to learn all three positions. So outside of Leonard — a First-Team All-Pro in 2018 who earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors — and probably Walker, there’s going to be fierce competition for any other available snaps at those three spots.
» Keep An Eye On: Just how many linebackers will be kept on the 53-man roster come Week 1? General manager Chris Ballard said he’s been a part of teams in the past that kept as many as seven linebackers at a time, and usually that indicates those that aren’t starting or in key backup roles are counted on as core special team contributors.
CORNERBACK (11): Jalen Collins, Pierre Desir, Nate Hairston, D.J. Killings, Chris Milton, Kenny Moore II, Jamal Peters, Shakial Taylor, Marvell Tell III, Quincy Wilson, Rock Ya-Sin
» Newcomers: 4 (Peters, Taylor, Tell III, Ya-Sin)
» Cornerbacks On Week 1 Roster In 2018: 5 (Desir, Hairston, Milton, Moore II, Wilson)
» Notes: The Colts addressed the cornerback position in two major ways this offseason, first re-signing Desir, their top corner, to a reported three-year deal, and then selecting Ya-Sin with their second-round (34th-overall) pick in the NFL Draft. As the rookies get into the fold, one would assume that Indy could have a strong first four cornerback group of Desir and either Wilson or Ya-Sin on the outside and Moore II on the inside. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus was rotating several corners in and out throughout the offseason and in training camp practices, so we might not get a good idea just who will be playing what roles until closer to Week 1.
» Keep An Eye On: Like at linebacker, it’ll be a numbers game once head coach Frank Reich and his assistant coaches begin deliberating on the number of corners that will make it onto their 53-man roster. One can always see a potential competition brewing between the likes of Collins and Hairston, while Milton, one of the top gunners in the league last year, hopes to continue taking advantage of his special teams niche while also trying to turn heads as a cornerback. The wild card could be Tell III, the fifth-round pick out of USC who is being converted over from safety; if things start to click for Tell III, his elite athleticism might be too much to keep off the roster when it’s all said and done.
SAFETY (7): Matthias Farley, Clayton Geathers, Malik Hooker, Derrick Kindred, Rolan Milligan, George Odum, Khari Willis
» Newcomers: 2 (Kindred, Willis)
» Safeties On Week 1 Roster In 2018: 5 (Farley, Geathers, Hooker, Corey Moore, Odum)
» Notes: When healthy, the Colts could had one of the better starting safety duos in the league in Hooker and Geathers. But that “when healthy” part of the equation has been tough at times for both players who have been in and out the last couple seasons with injury issues. Both are 100 percent healthy this offseason, though, which one would imagine should set up well against some of the best offenses and quarterbacks the league has to offer in 2019.
» Keep An Eye On: The Colts at times found great success with a three-safety look last season, so if they try that formation again in 2019, just who will fill those roles? Farley suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Week 5 last year, but has proven to be a bit of a stat sheet stuffer when he is on the field; Odum stepped in admirably as an undrafted rookie last year when his number was called; Kindred is a four-year NFL veteran with 42 games (and 17 starts) to his credit; and the team traded up 20 spots to select Willis in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft, and even considered taking him the day before in the third round.
SPECIAL TEAMERS (4): Cole Hedlund (K), Luke Rhodes (LS), Rigoberto Sanchez (P), Adam Vinatieri (K)
» Newcomers: 1 (Hedlund)
» Special Teamers On Week 1 Roster In 2018: 3 (Rhodes, Sanchez, Vinatieri)
» Notes: Same old, same old. That’s the theme for special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone’s bunch heading into 2019, as Rhodes, Sanchez and Vinatieri — all three who are extremely productive and dependable at their respective jobs — come back for another go of it. Vinatieri won’t be on record watch quite as much this year — he became the NFL’s all-time leader in points scored and made field goals last season — but entering his 24th season, he still has a ton left in the tank.
» Keep An Eye On: Like Michael Badgley last year, Hedlund will try to make the most of his opportunity to catch some eyes as the No. 2 kicker for the Colts this offseason, in training camp and in the preseason. Badgley eventually turned his positive experience splitting kicking duties with Vinatieri last year into a full-time gig with the San Diego Chargers.